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Us 43, America 22, United States 19, Illinois 17, U.s. 16, Pakistan 12, Madam 11, Libya 11, Pennsylvania 10, Reid 10, Mr. Durbin 9, North Dakota 8, Conrad 8, Egypt 6, Washington 5, Mccain 5, New Hampshire 5, Freddie Mac 5, United Nations 4, Bob Greenberg 4,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    September 20, 2012
    5:00 - 8:00pm EDT  

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target the romney plan and the ryan plan and the republican plan. it's because they don't have a plan p. mr. president, they don't even have an excuse for what this body has not done. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. more mr. presidentmr. moran: thr concepts that we discuss in the nation's capital have real consequences on everyday americans. i spoke to a rotary club in kansas and the local c.p.a. is in the audience and we go to questions and answers. he says, i just have a simple question, an easy question for you. this is a softball. what's the estate tax rate going to be next year in it's embarrassing not to be able to answer the simple questions about what is going to happen in people's lives. people are having to make
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decisions. that certified public accountant, that lawyer, that financial planner needs to be able to explain to that farmer in kansas, to that raunch, that small business owner what the tax code is going to look like. we're facing a point in time in which we have no opportunity to tell somebody what the tax code is going to be in three months. that's impaithat's embarrassing. when people ask me what's necessary for us to get washington, d.c., to solve the country's proficiency the answer is we desperately need leadership, somebody that encourages us to come together and it's been lacking. it's embarrassing to me for the nearly years i have been a member of the united states national not to see that leadership exhibited in the united states of america. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: mr. president, this week my home state of mississippi received the sobering news that our economy
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had slipped back into recession. frankly, i'm concerned that my state may be a harbinger for the rest of the country. despite national efforts to create new jobs and opportunities, our economy is not getting significantly bett better. it is a problem, we think. in most states unemployment has remained over 8% for more than three years despite spending nearly $1 trillion with the president's 2009 stimulus package. investments in small business growth have languished, and they've done this in a state of the economy, tax policy, federal regulations that seem to have made matters worse. the course we're on is simply not good enough. we hope and we urge the senate to make a strong stand. let's get together. let's push a simple,
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easy-to-follow game plan for economic recovery. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: th the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: last night i cram to the floor to object to a one-hour debate on a measure that would have had draconian effects on our relations with countries in the middle east, and i am not opposed to that measure or debating it, but i said that i would think -- thought it would be important to have an amendment. the majority leader of the united states senate said, the day of amendments here is -- is over. the majority leader of the united states senate said the day of amendments in this body are over. is there a more telling description of how this body has deteriorated and degenerated over the years? i co see my friend from maine h.
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it is a far cry from the day we first imcame, when other majority leaders would allow debate, amendments, and carry out the functions that the people ask us to, and that is with vigorous debate and discussion. the day of amendments in this body are over. and so, as we debated a bill for veterans job program, of which six are already existing, the majority leader, for the first time in 50 years -- forbe the firs--for the first time in 50 s in this body we have not taken up the defense authorization bill. we're in a war. we continue to have attacks on american citizens. americans' national security is at risk. and we can't even do enough for the men and women who are serving to pass legislation that is so vital to their future and their ability to defend this nation? shameful.
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ms. ayotte: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: our troops are fighting and being attacked in afghanistan. iran marches toward the capability of having a nuclear weapon, terrorists have you had inned our diplomats. innocent civilians are being murdered in syria by a despotic regime. mr. president, the world is a dangerous place. president obama, stop leading from behind. president obama, lead an effort. right in our military faces devastating cuts that your own secretary of defense said we'd be shooting ourselves in the head, that webbed undermining our national security for generations. we heard what's happed happening in the world. lead, be the commander in chief. your leadership has been absent. you have been awol on this critical issue and our troops and nation deserves better.
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the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: lucky you to be president today. we live in interesting times. you could receive the nobel peace prize for not being somebody else. four years later almost after the nobel peace prize has been awarded, where do we stand as a nation? osama bin laden is dead. that's good. that's a great accomplishment. the president should take plied in that. we should all celebrate the death of that evil man. but that's a -- that's not a foreign policy. is anybody deterred from attacking america in the middle east because bin laden is dead? has anybody said i better not go over the wall of the embassy in egypt, you know, we killed bin laden? there is no coherent foreign policy at a time when we need
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one. four years later, after a charm offensive and an apology tour that has not worked, our enemies are on steroids and our friends are unsure about who we are. i'll make a prediction. if this continues, the world is going to devolve into chaos, because at a time you need to be certain, we're unsure and the iranians are not taking anything we say seriously, and the russians and the chinese have corrupted the u.n. so much for restarting. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: mr. president, i rise today to state that the senate's lack of leadership in addressing sequestration will have long-term effects on our nation's robust intelligence community which had to be rebuilt after 9/11. these budget cuts will make it very difficult for the intelligence community to keep
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americans safe in future years. mr. president, america hungers for leadership, and unfortunately the united states senate lacks leadership from the majority on these issues that affect the safety of all americans. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: i rise to urge the senate to fully investigate the circumstances regarding the attack upon our u.s. consulate in benghazi, the torture and killing of our ambassador, the deaths of three american patriots and the following attacks and deaths involving marines in afghanistan. americans are watching a conflagration of an estimated half million jihadists and over 30 countries burning portraits of our presidents and american flags and threatening attacks upon our consulates and embassies while shouting death to america. no, mr. president, my colleagues, the war against terrorism is not over. now we find out ten days later that al qaeda was involved in a
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planned attack in benghazi, dangerous poe tests continue in pakistan and throughout the muslim world. this morning, the commandant of our marine corps informed the capitol hill marines there are 153 marine units at the ready to protect u.s. consulates and embassies at the direction of the state department. they should be deployed. and he believed that the current danger may well last decades. the sobering truth hurts. was there actionable intelligence prior to this attack, and if there was not, why not? especially given recent especially given recent recorded portion of today's proceedings on the floor of the senate. the senate has been in a recess for the last hour or so opposed to remaining psychiatry of seat clinton a briefing on the situation in the middle east. we will take you back live now to the floor of the senate we expect ford to continue to fund the government for six months beginning october 1st.
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live coverage here on c-span2.
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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. we're not in a quorum call. mr. durbin: i ask that if in
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executive session, the nomination of keith kelley of montana sent to the senate by the president be referred jointly to the help and veterans affairs committee. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent the
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quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, four years ago, our economy was in freefall, a.i.g. had been bailed out, lehman brothers plunged into bankruptcy. the depth of the recession we fell into is difficult to understate. with the economy contracting at nearly 9% in the last three months of 2008 and over 700,000 jobs lost every month, it's not an exaggeration to call the crisis we faced the worst since the great depression. demand dried up as our financial system collapsed. families struggled to pay the bills. millions lost their homes to foreclosure. our unemployment rate peaked at 10% nationally, 11.4% in illinois. it's been a hard road back to stable economic ground but things have turned around. private sector businesses are hiring again and have been for 30 straight months. between july, 2011, and july 2012, the economy added an average of 153,000 jobs every
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month. about 1.8 million jobs. compare that to the average monthly losses, 544,000 between july, 2008, and july, 2009. there a lot of work still to be done. we all would like to see more jobs created, but it's clear our economy is better off and we are better off than we were four years ago. i saw many examples of our economic progress as i traveled my state. the newcorp steel plant is in bourbon ace, illinois. it makes rebar that is used in construction across the country. what makes this company unique is that during the recession when many other companies were shedding employees, newcorp made a commitment to keep all of their full-time employees. it wasn't easy. when demand slowed, the company developed new products for its employees or in many cases they were sent out to work in the
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community on service projects as they waited for their company to get back into business. during this time, bourbon ace facility applied for and received department of labor's star certification recognizing their extraordinary efforts to improve workplace safety. newcorp made a commitment not just to the bottom line but to its workers and to the communities where they lived. it has paid off. demand has returned and the company is now firing on all cylinders, employing roughly 300 workers. i will tell you, i visited a lot of different production facilities. there was nothing more jaw dropping than to stand in that steel mill and watch these three poles go into a caldron of scrap metal, burst and explode into flame and steel some trickling out the bottom into these forms to make rebar and angle iron. earlier this summer, i also met with the c.e.o. of woodward. woodward governors and
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aerospace, an energy firm about its possible expansion at a facility in loves park, illinois. woodward was considering two locations for expanding its airline turbine product line. in the end, thank goodness for us, woodward picked illinois. the company is investing more than $200 million in the facility and is estimate -- and it is estimated that it will add 600 new jobs over the next five years. there is more to the story. while growing demand led to the expansion decision, it was the infrastructure and skilled workers that sealed the deal for loves park. loves park and rockford have been the home of arrow pace companies for decades and yet they made a concerted effort to grow and expand the training opportunities to meet modern work force needs. through a public-private partnership, the community has created an atmosphere that attracts new business investments and new jobs. illinois is about the last place , and southern illinois certainly the last place you would expect to find a
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world-leading firm in oil spill cleanups, but if you go to fairfield and carmi, illinois, that's what you will find. they specialize in equipment to clean up environmental accidents, specifically oil spills. in two former wal-mart buildings in those towns, 140 employees have developed new technologies that have expanded our ability to clean up oil spills around the world. just last year, the company won a 1 million-dollar x prize for recovering more than 2,500 gallons per minute, triple the industry's previous best recovery rate in controlled conditions. mr. president, this is in southern illinois. testing oil spill cleanup in southern illinois is hard to imagine. elastics equipment was used for cleanup at the exxon value diseases and other spills. the industry is governed by
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regulations governing the discharge of oil. without the regulations, the company and its technology it uses to clean up oil spills probably wouldn't exist. i also visited acorn. not the acorn that has been debated at length on the floor of the senate. akorn is a pharmaceutical company in decatur, illinois, which manufactures products like drugstore eye drops, liquid injectables used in surgery. akorn employees 500 people in illinois. since 2009, the company has been one of the chicago and illinois' fastest growing public companies. in 2011, akorn launched a multimillion-dollar expansion at its two decatur facilities. they have doubled production and added 100 jobs. akorn is looking to hire another 20-25 people with backgrounds in finance, production, chemistry, microbiology, engineering and business. these are highly technical, good-paying jobs rig in central illinois. one of my last stops in august
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was at the chrysler plant in belvedere. what a great story. only three years ago, there was a serious concern that this plant was going away. at the time, chrysler was facing bankruptcy and the plant was building a now-defunct model, the dodge caliber, and different models of the jeep. plant production had slowed to a single shift and employment had dropped to as low as 200 people. the federal government offered a bridge loan and helped to facilitate a merger with fiat. with government assistance, chrysler has emerged from bankruptcy and is profitable. in october, 2010, chrysler announced a nearly $700 million investment at the belvedere plant to retool for the production of the new dodge dart. the plant reached full production in july of this year, now employing 4,698 workers. if the auto industry had been allowed to collapse between 1.1 million and 3.3 million jobs would have been lost between
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2009 and 2011. these are stories of businesses in my home state. i ask my staff, find me businesses that survived the recession or expanding and hiring people. i want to hear their stories. and listen to the stories. all kinds of different businesses, large and small, expanding today, businesses that weathered the recession and they're successful. business is picking up. these businesses are hiring people back, in some cases expanding. their stories aren't unique. across america, 30 consecutive months of private sector job growth tells us we're moving in the right direction. 4.6 million private sector jobs have been created. in illinois alone, 140,400 private sector jobs have been added since january, 2010. manufacturing employment has rapidly grown, adding 44,600 or 37% of 140,000 jobs. during the last quarter of 2008, the economy has shrinking at a rate of nearly 9%.
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it was in freefall. during the most recent quarter, the economy is growing. on the positive side, 1.7%. in march of 2009, the dow jones industrial average had fallen to 6,547. since then, it's nearly doubled to almost 13,000 today. new home sales are up 3.6% in july. that's 25% over last year. u.s. goods and service exports increased .9% from may, 2012, to june, 2012, and have increased by 5.9% from the same time period last year. the american people see these facts and figures. they also feel the improvement in their communities. with new businesses opening and on their block with new housing recovery as well. we are much better off than we were four years ago. now is not the time to go back to policies that brought us into this recession but to move forward, creating even more jobs and expanding more businesses.
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now, mr. president, i see senator lee is on the floor, and i'd like to ask unanimous consent that the following statement be placed in a separate part of the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, the united states has led the world in creating the legal framework, building the infrastructure and designing facilities that ensure inclusion and opportunity for people living with disabilities. just recently, we celebrated the 22nd anniversary of the a.d.a., americans with disabilities ability. by -- act. by reporting a treaty under the foreign relations committee on a strong bipartisan basis. the members of this body now have an opportunity to affirm our nation's leadership on disability issues by ratifying this treaty. i hope that we will do so with strong bipartisan support that has always characterized the senate's work on disability issues. everyone knows the story when bob dole, a disabled veteran from world war ii, and tom harkin, his colleague, democratic colleague from iowa, with a disabled member of his family came together to create
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the americans with disabilities act. it was an extraordinary bipartisan effort. it did our nation proud. it gave to disabled people a chance to be in the mainstream and part of america. one of the people that helped, in addition to 54 million americans living with disability, was a fellow named bob greenberg. bob greenberg was the legendary sportscaster who rose to prominence at chicago's wbez radio station. at the apex of his career, bob offered color commentary for chicago's major sporting events. he interviewed the very best athletes. he analyzed the players. he rifled off stats and box scores that put the game in context. for his loyal and large chicago radio audience, bob greenberg described sporting events they couldn't see. bob's story is unique because he couldn't see the games either. bob greenberg was blind, but he never let it stop him from achieving his dreams. there's no doubt that laws like
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the a.d.a. helped make bob's road to achieving his dream a little bit smoother. we lost bob to cancer last summer, but we will never lose the power of his life and his life's story. most of us don't give a second thought to crossing the street, reading the newspaper or describing things we've seen, but for bob and millions like him, our nation's commitment to equal access for those living with disabilities has literally expanded their world. now we have an opportunity to once again demonstrate our commitment and advance disability rights around the world by ratifying the convention or the rights of persons with disabilities. the support for this treaty is broad and bipartisan. i want to thank my friend, senator john mccain of arizona. he is leading this effort with me to pass this convention on disabilities. he is a great ally. without him, we wouldn't have reached this point. but also thank senators john broors, chris coons, jerry moran for their bipartisan support and
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dedication to ratification. this treaty is supported by 165 disability organizations, including the most prominent, the u.s. international council on disabilities and many others, and in addition 21 veterans' groups came and testified. they were the earliest witnesses, and for obvious reasons. disabled veterans know the limits on life and how important it is to have countries like the united states and around the world opening doors literally for them to the future. the wounde -- the wounded warrior project supports it, disabled vet vans, the vet vanthe veterans of foree all calling on us to sign the treaty. senator bob dole, a lifelong advocate for disability rights, strongly supports this treaty. the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities is a human rights treaty that seeks to ensure that people living with disabilities have the same opportunities as others.
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thank to the a.d.a. and similar laws, the u.s. has been so successful providing opportunities and accessibility and protecting the rights of the disabled. our nation today is in full compliance with every term of the treaty which i'm bringing to the floor. before transmitting this treaty, the obama administration conducted an exhaustive comparison of the treaty's requirements to current law. their conclusion was the united states does not need to pass any new law or regulation in order to meet the terms of the treaty. the fact that we already meet or exceed treaty requirements is a testament to our nation's bipartisan commitment to equality and opportunity for those living with disabilities. so why would we ratify a treaty if it didn't going to change life in the united states or put any new requirements on the united states? well, there are more than 5 1/2 million veterans living with disabilities, american
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veterans. they and thousands of others live with disabilities but they travel, study, work and serve overseas, often with their families. ratifying this treaty will help to ensure they enjoy the same accessibility and opportunity they do right here at home. ratifying this treaty will give the united states a well-deserved seat at the international table so the u.s. can provide its guidance and expertise and experience to other countries working to adopt laws, upgrade infrastructure and modernize facilities to meet the high standards we've already set and met. american businesses have invested time and resources to comply with the a.d.a., the americans with disabilities act. businesses in some countries are not required to comply with similar standards. compliance with the treaty levels the playing field by requiring foreign businesses to meet accessibility standards similar to those already met by american businesses. we also lead the world in developing accessible products
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and technology. as other countries comply with this treaty on disability, american businesses will be able to export their expertise and products to the new markets serving more than 1 million people living with disabilities around the world. ratifying this treaty is not only important to 54 million americans living with disabilities, it's important to 10% of the world's population that live with a disability. the 650 million people living with disabilities around the world are looking to the united states to join them and show leadership as we have here at home on an international basis. not only do these people around the world courageously live with disabilities, they live with many challenges and hurdles in other countries that might be removed if other countries follow our lead. let me tell you just a few when it comes to disability around the world. 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school. 90%. less than 25%, 45 of the 193
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countries in the united nations, have passed laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person's disability. studies indicate that women and girls in developing countries are more likely than men to have a disability. women and girls or are disabilities -- women and girls with disabilities in developing countries are more likely to be raped, forcibly sterilized or physically abused. this treaty will help provide the framework so countries around the world can help their own citizens living with disabilities improve, live productive and healthy lives. just like we did by enacting the a.d.a.22 years ago, ratifying this treaty will send the world the message that people with disabilities deserve a level playing field. while this treaty will ensure inclusion and access, it's also important to note what it will not do. the treaty will not require the united states to appropriate any new funds or resources to comply with its terms.
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not a penny. the treaty will not change any u.s. law or comprise our sovereignty. the treaty will not lead to new lawsuits because its terms don't create any new rights and it cannot be enforced in any united states court. for families that choose to educate their children at home in the united states, the treaty will not change any current rights or obligations. i was pleased that the foreign relations committee adopted an amendment that i worked on with senator demint to clarify that particular issue. and let me add, too, leading pro-life groups, like the national right-to-life committee, confirm that the treaty does not promote, expand access or create any right to an abortion. senator mccain, in his testimony before the committee, made that eminently clear. he is pro-life. this treaty has no impact on that issue. thanks to decades of bipartisan cooperation, our country embodies the worldwide gold standard for those living with disabilities. when the senate ratifies the convention on the rights of
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persons with disabilities, we can be proud our coworkers, friends, family members and courageous veterans will soon enjoy the same access and opportunity when they travel abroad that they have come to expect here at home. so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider executive calendar number 6, treaty document 112-7, that the treaty be considered as having advanced through the various parliamentary stages up to and including the presentation of the resolutions of ratification, that any committee declarations be agreed to, as applicable, that any statements be printed in the record as if read; further, that when the votes on the resolution of ratification are taken, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? sorry. is there objection? mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, reserving the right to object.
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i'd like to take just a few moments to explain why i plan to object. i have right here a letter that is signed by 36 members of this body who express the viewpoint that because of the prerogative that we have as united states senators to ratify treaties -- two-thirds of us have to provide our advice and consent to ratify a treaty before it can take affect -- this is important because in part article 6, section 2, tells us that once ratified, a treaty becomes the supreme law of the land. we have 36 senators on this letter, a letter addressed to leader mcconnell and leader reid explaining that for various reasons, we don't think that any treaty should come up for ratification during the lame-duck period of the 112th congress. and we explain that no treaty should be brought up during this time period and conclude that we will oppose efforts to consider any treaty during this time period. the primary reason cited in the letter is the fact that it is very important to make sure that
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we have a full understanding of what these treaties mean. it's also important that before we undertake any significant changes to the law, law becoming supreme law of the land, we need to understand the implications of these treaties fully. if it is true, as 36 members of this body concur in this letter, that it's too fast to move something like this or another treaty through during the lame-duck session of the 112th congress, it follows for sure that it's also too fast to do it now. now, with regard to i this particular treaty, we've had one, and only one, hearing on this on july 26 of this year. i appreciate and respect the words of my friend, my distinguished colleague, the senior senator from illinois, and i'm pleased with the fact that he is comfortable with the language of the treaty. i and some of my colleagues are not yet comfortable with it and i and some of my colleagues are not yet convinced as to the full
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ramifications of the language of this proposed treaty. i, therefore, object. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i would like to respond to my colleague, senator lee. repeatedly he said we shouldn't consider this in the lame-duck session. we are not in a lame-duck session. this is the regular session of the senate. we do precious little in this regular session and now you're saying we shouldn't do it in the lame-succession. we're not in a lame-duck session. and, i might say, this treaty has been out there for review for months. it had a full review before the senate foreign relations committee. senator kerry called it. you were there. other members were there. and had a chance to go through it page by page and offer amendments, which many senators did. so to argue that this is somehow being sprung on the members of the senate without time to review it is to ignore the obvious. we are not in a lame-duck session. this was produced for review and
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amendment, had a full hearing before the senate foreign relations committee, and a vote was taken. it's disappointing. we had hoped to do this and do it now because many of the srmts supporters of this treaty are facing their own physical challenges. one of them's our former colleague, senator bob dole. 22 years ago he led the fight for the americans with disabilities act. when senator john mccain took this up, he said, i'm going to call bob dole first and he did. i would think that, in his honor, i hope the senator from utah will reconsider his position and now, before the lame-duck session, perhaps we can have some communication and perhaps there's a way that we can ratify this treaty in the senate. we do precious little in the united states senate. to do this, at least to honor senator dole, is not too much to ask, not to mention the positive impact it will have on so many disabled people around the wor world. i know the senator from -- senator lee is a conservative
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but i also know he has a heart and i know he cares, as i do, about these people. children who have no chance in life because of a disability in other countries. women discriminated against because of disabilities. these are things that we should speak out on. we're proud to be americans but we're doubly proud of the values we stand for and fight for. this is one that we should fight for. i see senator harkin on the floor. i'm going to yield. he has been literally the leader on our side of the aisle on disability issues time and time again and i thank him for his help on this matter. mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: well, mr. president, i -- i truly am sorry to see this happen on the senate floor, i say to my good friend from utah. this has been a long time comi coming. the convention on the right of people with disabilities started here, started in america.
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it started with the passage of the americans with disabilities act in 1990 -- in 1990. 91 senators voted "aye" on that. strongly supported by conservatives, liberals, moderates understanding that we had to take that next step in having a broad civil rights law that covered people with disabilities in our society. after that was passed and during the 1990's, it became clear that this kind of ignited a kind of a conscience around the world that we needed to do something globally about people with disabilities. so, really, the united states sort of became the -- the leader in promoting this convention on the right of people with disabilities at the united nations. in fact, i have a quote here i would share with my friend that when -- when president bush
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signed the bill on july 26 and we were all gathered at the white house, here's what he said. he said, "this historic act" -- and this is a quote -- "this historic act is the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. the first. its passage has made the united states the international leader on this human rights issue." and so starting after that, our diplomats and others started working on this issue, and so this convention was developed during -- through the knitted night. i don't know all addition through the united nations. i don't know all the wherewithal of how it was done but it was done and we had great input into that. and so now the convention's come out. it was sent to us a couple of years ago. under our laws, the president, whoever it might be, has to stheand out to all the -- has to send that out to all the departments and agencies to see whether or not are there any conflicts of laws or do we have to change any of our laws to
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comport with this convention. well, that bureaucracy takes awhile. that took a couple of years to wind through. i think -- i don't know when the president got it back but he sent it down to us this spring and the -- and the finding was that -- that the administration said -- made it clear that through all of this, that ratification of this convention will not require any change in u.s. law and will have no fiscal impact. so doesn't require any change. that makes sense because we're the leader in the world on disability law. we are "the" leader. and so i went to -- senator mccain and i were the two lead-off witnesses on -- in the -- when the foreign relations committee had their hearing on this but we weren't the only ones.
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boyden gray, who was so very helpful in 1990 in deght the initiagetting theinitial a.d.a.- in getting the initial a.d.a. passed through the congress. he testified. senator dole said in a letter -- he couldn't show up in person -- former attorney general thornburgh testified. steve bartlett, who was a congressman from dallas and who later left the house, became mayor of dallas and now i think he's the executive director of the business council here, was there to testify. he had been very instrumental in not only helping us pass the a.d.a. but helping us pass the a.d.a. act amendments of 2008 which the second president bush signed into law. well, i say this to my friend from utah, this is not something that popped up overnight. this has been a long time coming, a lot of effort has been put into it and as i said, all the departments have said there is no conflict with our laws, we don't have to change
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anything. i also say to my friend that -- that, you know, we do want to be that city on the hill, that shining city on the hill and this is one area in which the united states has no equal. we have taken the lead in the world on this issue. countries come to us to see how they can do something, what they can do for people with disabilities. 116 nations have already signed it and the european union. if we don't sign it, then when other countries then they have to change their laws to comport with this convention, i think we should be at the table. we should be there with them, sharing with them what we have done in america to make accommodations better, to make education accessible to people with disabilities, employment, all those things. if we don't sign it, we're not going to be a part of that.
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and yet the rest of the countries are looking to us for leadership on this. so we should be at the table. and one other thing i'd just say to my friend from utah, is, you know, we're very mobile people, we travel around the world a lot. and more and more people with disabilities are traveling. veterans with disabilities, nonveterans. and yet how many times have i heard from people who have traveled overseas and say gosh, i wanted to go here, yapted to go there but because i have a disability i couldn't get around. it would be nice if other countries did this. well, other countries have now signed onto it and i was hoping that we could vote this and be a part of it and be a part of helping other countries to -- to change their systems and to be more accommodating for people with disabilities. i quite frankly i must said seau
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to my friend from utah, i'm perplexed, i really am, as to why -- why this is an issue. i don't know why there's an objection. maybe there's something that i don't understand about this. i thought i did. but maybe there's something i don't know about this that the senator can enlighten me on as to why shouldn't we bring this up, and i suppose if someone wants to vote against it, they can, it takes a two-thirds vote of the senate to pass this. i just -- well, i guess i'm just perplexed as to why we can't do this. i seat it seems to be so bipartisan and it seems to be so much above the political fray. i just don't notice politics in this whatsoever. and so i just guess, i'd assume that we would bring this up and pass it.
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it was not really aware this was going to happen this way, i was in my office when i was alerted to this. so i'm -- guess i just -- just say i don't know why we can't bring this up and have a small debate on it and vote on it. mr. president, i have more to say but i yield the floor. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, with great respect to my distinguished colleagues who are supporting this treaty and a move to move it to the floor for a full vote right now, i understand and appreciate that they may not share some of the same concerns expressed in this letter, serns surrounding the fact that treaties once ratified become the law of the land, the supreme law of the land. concerns surrounding the fact many americans may have concerns about this, concerns that may be expressed during the upcoming election season, and to the extent that this becomes a
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matter of debate, it might have an impact on the election. i think this might have been part of what motivated 36 senators signing this saying no treaty ought to be voted on during the lame duck session. with regard to the comment made by my friend from illinois, the senior senator from illinois moments earlier, of course understand weemb not in a lame duck session. that is my entire point. if it is true the lame duck session is too soon to consider treaties, not the appropriate time to consider treaties, it follows a fortiori, stronger make the point now it's too strong to consider this now. with regard to the law of the sea treaty, we held hearings, i can't remember how many, three, four, five this year. we've had exactly one hearing on this one. i understand some of my colleagues might be satisfied with the assurances provided by some lawyers within the state department to the effect that this is entirely compatible with
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u.s. law to the effect it would not impose any additional new different obligations on u.s. law. i'm not satisfied that that is the case. i therefore object. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president, i don't know what it would take to satisfy my friend from utah. it goes out to all the departments. they have to analyze this and they took over a year, almost two years, to do this to find out if there were any conflicts with laws. so what -- if you go through all of that, and all the departments report back and they can't find any conflicts of laws or any laws we have that need to be changed, i don't know what would satisfy the gentleman from utah. what could that possibly be? so we almost raise an impossible barrier. unless the senator could inform
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us as to what it would be that would satisfy him. i just don't know what else you could do other than what has been done on this bill. now, again, i can understand people saying they had a hearing on it, i think it was well attended, but as i said, this is not something that sprung up overnight. this has been in the works for a number of years. and to think that here we are the world's leader on this issue , swrindz all that -- i didn't understand all the senator said but he said it could have an effect on the election or something like that? i have no idea what he's talking about. if there's truly a nonpartisan, bipartisan issue, it's this. and we've always made it thus. when we passed the americans with disabilities act, it was
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truly bipartisan. when the supreme court made their decisions in the sutton case, the sutton trill o.j.y in the toyota case in the late 1990's, early 2000, that kind of threw a monkey wrench in terms of employment in terms of disability, it caused a lot of consternation in the disability community and in the business community and we had to right that. we had to kind of tell the supreme court what we meant. well, that was 2001, it took us seven years of working with republicans and democrats and the administration, everybody, but in 2008 we passed a bill in the senate unanimously, passed it in the house unanimously. president george bush, the second bush, signed it into law. i was down there for it. the first president bush who signed the initial americans
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with disabilities act was there. we were there with republicans and democrats. it was not seen as any kind of an issue. and if i'm not mistaken, 2008 was an election year. if i'm not mistaken. and yet president bush did not say we can't sign this because there's an election. this had nothing to do with politics. and so i just find this almost bizarre that the senate cannot act on something so close to us as a people, something that we have taken such a lead on, something which means so much in terms of our leadership globally, that we can't act on this. and, again, so many people have taken the lead on this. not only senator durbin and senator kerry of the foreign relations but senator mccain,
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senator barrasso, senator moran, senator lugar, senator udall, senator coons, many, bipartisan, have been working on this. i'll admit, obviously i have a deep interest in this since i was the senate author of the americans with disabilities act. it's been a key part of my senate career for 25 years now. for 25 years. one of the great joys was passing the americans with disabilities act, with bipartisan support. thanks to the a.d.a., our country is a better place for everyone. not just for people with disabilities, but for their families, their friends, for everyone. for everyone. i cited earlier what president
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bush said when he signed it. he said this historic act is the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. the first. its passage has made the united states the international leader on this human rights issue. that's president bush, 1990. the first. we were the first. we are the international leader on this issue. and now, 116 other nations, the european union can sign onto this but we can't? this is truly bizarre. thanks to the a.d.a. and other u.s. laws passed under the umbrella of the a.d.a., america has shown the rest of the world how to honor the human rights of children's and adults with disabilities, how to integrate them into society, remove the barriers to full participation, in activities we now take for granted. we can take pride in the fact that our support for disability
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rights has inspired, inspired a global movement that led the united nations to adopt the crpd, the convention on rights of people with disabilities. we led that. our legal framework influenced the substance of the convention. its informing its implementation in the 116 countries that signed and ratified it along with the urine union. as i -- european union. as i said, i'm grateful for the leadership on both sides of the aisle. some senators here before but not now, senator dole, some here who were active in supporting the americans with disabilities act, senator mccain. new senators, senator barrasso, senator moran, others. george -- president george herbert walker bush, the first president bush has been an active supporter of the crpd.
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his white house counsel, boyden gray, his attorney general, dick thornburgh have been enthusiastic and active supporters of us ratifying, the senate ratifying the crpd. and by ratifying this convention the united states will be reaffirming our commitment to our citizens with disabilities are. as i said earlier, americans with disabilities including disabled veterans should be able to live, travel, study, work abroad with the same freedoms and access that they enjoy here in the united states. and as the state parties, as these different countries come together to grapple with the best ways to make progress and remove barriers, we, america, should be at the table with them. helping them learn from our experience. as i said, the administration as submitted what they call reservations, understandings, and declarations that make clear
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that u.s. ratification of the crpd will not require any change in u.s. law and will have no fiscal impact. well, i don't know what else you can do to satisfy someone. but i would say if people just feel that we don't want to take that leadership, well, then, they can vote against it but we ought to bring it up for a debate and a discussion and a vote on the senate floor and i would say although u.s. ratification will have no impact on our laws, and will not have a fiscal impact, my hope is that u.s. ratification will have a moral impact, a moral impact. my hope is that it would send a signal to the rest of the world that it is not okay to leave a baby with down's syndrome by the side of the road to die.
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it's not okay to warehouse adults with intellectual disabilities in institutions. chained to the bars of a cell where their only crime is they have a disability. it's not okay to refuse to educate children because they're blind or deaf or use a wheelchair. it's not okay to prevent disabled people have voting or getting married or owning property or having children. it's not okay to rebuild the infrastructure in places like iraq, afghanistan, haiti and other war-torn or disaster-stricken areas without improving the accessibility of the infrastructure at the same time. former president reagan frequently talked about america as a city on a hill, a shining example of the world, to the nation that ensures opportunity and freedom for all of its
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people. thanks to our country's success in implementing the a.d.a., advancing that law's great goals of full inclusion and full participation for all of our citizens, america indeed has become a city on a hill, a shining city on a hill for people with disabilities across the globe. by ratifying the crpd, we can affirm our leadership in this field. we can give renewed impetus to those striving to emulate us. we can give them that renewed impetus by our example, by sitting down with them if we are signatory to this. so again, i guess i have to recognize there are some senators who were not part of the bipartisan vote to support it in the foreign relations committee. i guess there are some who are not ready to support the unanimous consent motion before
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us. my hope, since obviously we're tkoplg a -- coming to a close here, i hope we use the time between now and when we come back in our lame duck session after the election to address any issues that have been raised about the crpd. if senators have issues and want them raised, let's get them out. and then let's move forward after the election when we come back with a strong bipartisan vote and a strong bipartisan vote for us to ratify the crpd. when we voted on the a.d.a., americans with disabilities act in 1990, 91 senators -- there were nine that didn't vote for it. i understand that. 91 senators voted in support of that historic law. my hope is when this comes up
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for vote after the election we can achieve the strong bipartisan statement of support for the human rights of one billion people with disabilities around the world. we must -- we must reaffirm our leadership on this issue. and let the rest of the world know that we are not stepping backward on this. we are going to maintain our support for the dignity and the rights of people with disabilities not only here in america, but anywhere around the world. so, mr. president, i'm really sorry that we couldn't have brought this up. i haven't done any head counts or any votes, but i think i know most of the senators here, and people of goodwill, and i really believe when they look at this and think about it, i think it's going to get an overwhelming vote of support.
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so i'm just sorry we couldn't bring it up. i look forward, hopefully, to passing this when we come back after the election. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. mr. sessions: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: madam president, senator reid was, i think, stung a bit this morning when remarks were made about the failure of this senate to pass a budget, failure to move a single appropriations bill which is the first time in, i understand over 100 years not a single appropriations bill was brought to the floor, a decision by the democratic leadership to not even bring a single bill up. so we end up with a big, big omnibus c.r., and also it didn't bring up the defense appropriations bill for the first time in 51 years.
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senator mccain explained that yesterday, the day before, and expressed his frustration about it. but -- and i was disappointed this morning that -- to hear comments from him and our budget chairman, kent conrad, about this frustration and i believe truth-telling from republicans this morning senator reid said -- quote -- "it's a big lie for the republicans to come here and say we haven't passed a budget." let's look at the facts. the law requires the senate majority to produce a budget, a financial plan every single year. it's in the code of the united states. a plan that covers taxes, entitlements, spending and debt. fundamental to the future of our
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country. it's why it's required by law. people saw the need for it. that plan must be produced and voted on in committee and brought to the senate floor. the house, the republican house put together such a plan, moved it and passed it. senate democrats have no plan. they have proposed nothing, offered nothing, put nothing on paper. senator reid, our nation is facing a debt crisis. surely you agree. what is your plan? where is your budget? what is your proposal to rescue the finances of this nation? i haven't seen it. i'm just the ranking republican on the budget committee. the american people haven't seen it. it doesn't exist. the house has a plan. where is your proposal?
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have you forgotten that you canceled our budget committee markup on the budget this spring stph* and refused to bring up a budget to the floor last year? what do you plan to do on taxes, on entitlements, on welfare, on spending, on debt? how does your majority plan to balance the budget of this nation? do you have a plan? surely you know the spending caps in the budget control act are not a financial plan for america. as the magazine "politico" put it -- quote -- "democratic leaders have defiantly refused to lay out their own vision for how to deal with federal debt and spending." let me read that again. is there any problem greater for
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america today than debt and spending? this is what "politico" has reported not too long ago. democratic leaders have defiantly refused to lay out their own version of how to deal with federal debt and spending. close quote. that's exactly correct. that is indisputable. we have had the worst performance of the united states senate on financial matters in the history of the country, in my opinion. i can't imagine any congress being less fulfilling of its duty. speaking on fox news, chairman conrad earlier this year said "with a we need, i believe, is at least a ten-year plan. that's why i am going to mark up a budget resolution the first week we're back in session." that was in april. that markup never happened. the washington "freebie con," --
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the washington free beacon," this is what they reported and claimed, "conrad stunned observers tuesday when he announced that he would not follow through on his expressed intention to offer, mark up and pass a democratic budget resolution. many suspect that conrad's plan was derailed at the last minute by senate majority leader harry reid and other democrats who did not wish to cast politically difficult votes." i haven't heard that disputed. there's no dispute that senator reid decided along with the democratic conference frankly. they all met and came out seined we're not going to -- and said we're not going to bring out a budget. we'll have to vote. we'll have to lay out our plan and then people can look at it and say what's wrong with it. we'd rather spend our time attacking their plan.
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we don't want to show our cards, provide any leadership. this is what happened. "the new york times" reported -- quote -- "mr. conrad's announcement canceling the markup surprised republicans and democrats who were expecting him to produce a democratic budget that if passed by the committee would have been the first detailed deficit-reduction plan in three years." that's the way "the new york times" reported it. i say they're accurate. that's the way i saw it. senator joe lieberman caucuses with the democrats said he was -- quote -- "disappointed by the party's refusal to confront the issue, saying i don't think the democrats will offer their own budget and i'm disappointed in that. senator pryor said we've had
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three years with president obama and we're not able to get a budget resolution passed. it gets worse. not only have our democratic colleagues failed to do their duty, but they savagely attacked the house for producing a budget and laying out a plan. here's what senator conrad said today. senator conrad's a good friend, but give me a break, senator conrad. this is what he says: "the house plan fails any moral test of government." he said the house plan failed the moral test. and he said that several times and repeated it. so these comments are outrageous really. they're knack rat. but -- they're inaccurate. but they are also hypocritical. i ask what is the morality of the majority party in this senate that has violated the law purposely and deliberately in
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order to avoid presenting a plan to save this nation from financial disaster? deliberately refused to go forward. what about the families that will be impacted by a debt crisis? what about our military? what about our future as a nation? where is our duty during this defining hour of our republic, america's hour of need? is there no response and no leadership? every senate democrat in every state will have to explain why they have not stood up to senator reid and his proposal. presumably all of them together. none of them have come to the floor and opposed it and said they would vote to bring a budget up. i know the senator was stung a bit this morning, but it's not a lie to say that we didn't have a budget this year. and i know that it was painful to listen to the litany of
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failures of this congress. first, no budget in three years, 1,240 days. no appropriations bill, not one. failed to bring up the defense authorization bill for the first time in 50 years. failure to confront the sequester and how to fix it, that we know we're going to have to do. and we're going to let it wait until late in the year causing great turmoil at the department of defense. not dealing with the fiscal cliff. all of those are fundamental things this senate should have been done, and we haven't done any of it. we don't even bring up the bills. we should have had a great historic debate for the last two years over the future financial status of america, because it is clearly the greatest threat facing our nation. and we haven't had it. we had little groups meet in secret. gangs and groups and secret
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committees and special committees. so this is what i would say about this budget. if i were prosecuting a case, as i used to be as a federal prosecutor, i would say that the defendant has confessed. this is what senator reid said back in may of 2011: "there is no need to have a democratic budget, in my opinion." it's not a question of his opinion. it's the law of the united states. nobody asked his opinion. he has a duty to follow the law, i would think. he goes on to state -- how about this -- quote -- "it would be foolish for us to do a budget." well, senator reid, i think, is moved into this modern world,
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postmodern world really, where words mean about anything you want them to mean. and you can just say it's a lie that we produced a budget, that the budget control act that was a part of the compromise to raise the debt ceiling and set some spending limits on spending in a discretionary account only, not all the accounts of the united states, that is not a budget. and the parliamentarian has already ruled that's not a budget. so there's no question we don't have a budget and we haven't had leadership. it's been very disappointing. and i was disappointed to have my good friend, senator conrad, attack the house for having the gumption to lay out a plan that would change the debt course of america and put us on the path to prosperity. and i'm sorry that senator reid has overreacted and declared that it's not true that we -- that the republicans have asserted that we don't have a budget, because we don't have a
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budget. it is true. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: madam president, i rise to speak on energy legislation which is important to this country and legislation that i truly believe that we can and in fact need to pass this year. the u.s. house of representatives today is working on key energy legislation. i think it's very likely they will pass it this evening. that legislation includes a bill that's very similar to energy legislation that i have put forward here in the senate. the legislation i'm talking about is the coal ash recycling and oversight act of 2012. simply put, this legislation sets commonsense standards for managing and recycling coal ash with a state-led, states-first
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approach. now, we have strong bipartisan support for the bill. as i said, we need to take the bill up this year and pass it. simply put, we have the support on a bipartisan basis to support it. we have more than a dozen democrat sponsors and more than a dozen republican sponsors. so why is it important? well, in simple terms, this is exactly the kind of energy legislation that can help take our nation to energy security or energy intelligence. what i mean by that is with the right energy plan, we can move this country to the point where we produce more energy than we consume. working with our closest friend and ally, canada, we can produce more energy than we consume, meaning we truly are energy independent or energy secure, so that we're not importing energy from the middle east. and it's not just about energy.
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it's about jobs, good-paying jobs at a time when we have more than 8% unemployment. it's about economic growth. economic growth that we need to get on top of the debt and the deficit. we need to find savings but we have also got to get this economy growing to get on top of this deficit and our $16 trillion federal debt. and it's about national security. look what's going on in the middle east. look what's going on across the middle east, yet we still import energy from the middle east. americans do not want to be dependent on importing energy from the middle east, and the reality is with the right energy plan, we can produce that energy here at home and be energy secure, create good jobs, get our economy growing at the same time. this is just one step but it's one more important step on that journey. so let me -- let me just give
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you an example of what we're doing in my home state of north dakota and doing in states across the country. in north dakota, just north of the capital of bismarck, there is a large electric power complex. it's the coal creek power station that's operated by great river energy, a company that operates throughout north dakota and minnesota. it's a large complex. it generates 1,100 megawatts of electricity, two 550-megawatt power plants. it employs the latest, greatest technology. so it has emissions controls that are state of the art. in fact, this plant captures waste steam, steam that was formerly exhausted in the air, it wastes steam and uses it to power an ethanol plant. so they are making renewable transportation fuel with waste steam. very low cost, very efficient. and it reuses the coal ash or
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the coal residuals that are produced, it recycles those for building materials. along with company called headwaters, which is a natural resource company out of utah, great river energy takes this coal ash and they make flexcrete out of it, which is concrete they use in highways, roads, bridges, anywhere you would use concrete, but they also make other building products as well like shingles you would use to put on your roof. so i mean this is truly a concept where we're recycling the coal ash and the coal residuals. now, formerly that coal ash was put in landfills, and the company would pay about $4 million a year to landfill hundreds of thousands of tons of coal ash, but now they sell it and it's made into these building materials so they generate something like $12 million a year selling this coal ash for building materials. if you do the math, that's about
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a $16 million swing from a cost of $4 million a year to a revenue stream of $12 million a year. what does that mean? that means that families, small businesses, consumers throughout north dakota, minnesota and beyond now pay $16 million less for their electricity than they did before because of this creeft use. this truly is american ingenuity and american innovation at work. in fact, i have got a couple of examples here of buildings that are made from building materials produced with coal ash. the first one is the national energy center of excellence at bismarck state college. this is at bismarck state college where we train people in the energy field, so people are learning how to have a great career in all different types of energy at a facility that is made with the coal ash that i'm talking about. it overlooks the missouri river. it is an absolute beautiful
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facility. let me give you another example. this is a building that's under construction right now. it's the north dakota heritage center. it's on the exop grounds of our state capitol in bismarck. it's our heritage center. the museum of our state history. right now we're doing a $50 million expansion to this facility. a $50 million expansion to this facility is being constructed with coal ash. it's a beautiful building. it's being constructed right now. nationwide, by using coal ash, nationwide we reduce energy con assumption by 162 trillion b.t.u.'s a year. now, that's an energy amount that's equal to 1.7 million homes. so we save that amount of energy. the amount of energy equal to powering 1.7 million homes. water use. we save by recycling coal ash, we save 32 billion gallons of water annually. that's equal to one-third of the
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amount of water used in the state of california. so you want to talk about saving energy and saving water use, this is truly a concept that those that favor renewable energy as well as those that favor traditional sources of energy ought to be able to get together on. this is recycling, saving huge amounts of energy, saving huge amounts of water. so why do i tell the story? the reason i tell the story is this -- right now, coal ash is regulated under subtitle d of the resource conservation and recovery act. subtitle d. that's nonhazardous waste. but e.p.a. is looking at changing that to regulating it under subtitle c, which is the hazardous waste section. and they're looking at doing that in spite of the department of energy, the federal highway administration, state regulatory authorities and even e.p.a. itself acknowledging that it's not a toxic waste.
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the e.p.a. has proposed that change in regulation, they have proposed it in june of 2010. but clearly, that would undermine the industry, drive up costs and eliminate jobs when our economy can least afford them. just to put that in perspective, the industry estimates that it would cost $50 billion annually and eliminate 300,000 american jobs. so let me elaborate, let me go through that. meeting the regulatory disposal requirements under the e.p.a. subtitle c proposal would cost between $250 and $450 a ton as opposed to about $100 a ton under the current system. now, that translates into $47 billion a year burden on electricity generators who use coal and most importantly, of course, who pays that bill? their customers. families and small businesses across the country. and overall, that could mean the
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loss of 300,000 american jobs. that's why we brought this legislation forward with senator conrad, my colleague in north dakota, and also senator baucus of montana and others. as i say, we have got 12 -- well, we have more than 12 republican sponsors of the bill, 12 democrat sponsors on the bill. so it is very much a bipartisan bill. furthermore, this bill not only preserves coal ash recycling, as i have described, by preventing these byproducts from being treated as hazardous, it also established -- this is important -- this bill establishes comprehensive federal standards for coal ash disposal. under this legislation, states can set up their own permitting programs for the management and the disposal of coal ash. these programs would be required to be based on existing e.p.a.
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regulations to protect human health and the environment. if a state does not implement an acceptable permit program, then e.p.a. regulates the program for that state. as a result, states and industry will know where they stand under this bill and the benchmark for what constitutes a successful state program will be set in statute. e.p.a. can say yes, the state does meet the standards or no, the state does not meet the standards, but the e.p.a. cannot move the goal post. this is a states-first approach that provides regulatory certainty. and what is certain is that under this bill, coal ash disposal sites will be required to meet established standards. now, again, this is important, we're requiring tt they meet established standards. these standards include groundwater detection and monitoring, liners, corrective
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action when environmental damage occurs, structural stability criteria and the financial assurance and recordkeeping needed to protect the public. so we set stringent standards. madam president, this legislation is needed to protect jobs, to help reduce the cost of homes, roads and electric bills. and i want to thank the republicans and the democrats that have stepped forward on this bill, particularly senator conrad, my colleague in north dakota, senator baucus and others. we have the bipartisan support to move this bill forward. ee it to the floor and do it this year. it really is about energy for this country that we need, and it is about jobs for american workers. madam president, with that, thank you, and i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: madam president, i rise today to address the legislation that has been offered as an amendment that would cut off all foreign aid to egypt, pakistan and libya. as i watched our flag being shredded by a gloating mob at the walls of the american embassy in cairo, i shared with fellow hoosiers and americans a sense of sadness and deep anger. that mob and the one that led to the death of four american diplomats in libya, including our ambassador, were those that stormed our embassies throughout the muslim world showed us again how much contempt and disrespect those people have for the united states and for americans.
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many in those countries clearly still hate us. as displayed on our thrigz this past week, the arab spring is evolving into a very bleak winter. events this past year and especially this past week in the middle east and north africa continue to present us with enormous challenges. we have mishandled them badly. no one should be deluded enough to see it in any other way. the best judge of a policy is the results, and by that measure, our report card is found among the ashes of the consulate in benghazi. the questions the administration and this body must answer soon is how best to react to this failure and what steps offer the greatest chances of making things right or at the very least making things somewhat better. and the search for answers must involve a complete re-evaluation
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of the full range of american policy tools, including military actions, diplomatic dialogue, economic measures, multilateral efforts and simply better leadership. not leadership that leads from behind. now, it's understandable to ask why on earth should we send one more dime to these people who hate us so much? we will soon be voting on an amendment that codifies the instinct to cut off all assistance programs to, yes, problematic countries including libya, egypt and pakistan. based on recent events, i agree that we need to reassess the foreign aid we do send to these countries. however, i also believe that we need to avoid a shortsighted reaction and consider a broader review of the purposes and the costs of foreign aid, and with
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that, i would like to address those two issues. first of all, the cost. foreign aid, as many do not know, is just a fraction of our federal budget, so we need to understand how much that aid really costs taxpayers. our foreign aid programs are less than 1% of the federal budget, and put even more vividly, according to the oecd, just 0.12% of our gross national income is devoteed to foreign aid. not only is that figure about a tenth of the number of sweden or norway, it is only a third of the figure for france and half as much as the united kingdom. we even devote a smaller share of our national wealth to foreign assistance than of all countries, greece. now, i've been on this senate floor several times calling for washington to get control of excessive spending and i take a back seat to no one in that
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effort. i have repeatedly said that in order to address our $16 trillion national debt, everything must be on the table, including foreign aid, but we must assess and reassess all foreign aid to determine if it's still effective and even necessary. we should cut where it makes sense to cut. but when there is a discussion about eliminating all aid to pakistan, libya and egypt, let's be honest with the american people about the true cost of all that. together this aid only constitutes a fraction of a single percent of our federal budget and cutting it would be nothing but a gesture toward the real austerity required to deal with our deficit. but that's not the primary reason and that's not the real question before us. the real question before us is, aside from the cost argument -- which is minuscule -- the
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national security reasons for why we should pause and consider our next step very carefully ought to drive us to think this through. we must keep a clear eye and recognize the fact that sending american taxpayer dollars overseas is first and foremost a matter of strategic purpose and national security. i want to repeat that. we must remember that the money that we send overseas is, first and foremost, a matter of strategic purpose and national security. and without that component -- and we do have to reassess the value and what we receive in return for foreign aid -- we can be sure that foreign assistance plays a role in the struggle for the hearts and minds of the world's poor. today it is also central to the contest for political power. other rivalries are apparent. china plays in the contest for political influence and access to natural resources by engaging
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in foreign assistance as defined by their own standards. chinese assistance activities in africa, latin america and southeast asia grew from $is.5 billion in addition from $1.5 billion in 2003 to $27.5 billion in 2006, a nearly 20fold increase in just three years and it continues to grow. and their influence continues to grow in those countries around the world as china expands its reach and exerts its influence. now, none of this means that we in the senate should support wasteful foreign ail programs with little regard to -- foreign aid programs with little regard to solid purpose -- good design, proper accountability and visible standards of positive result. i want to see our foreign aid program reassessed. i believe we need to reevaluate the way we make our foreign aid
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determinations. but rather than cutting off all foreign aid in an instinctual way after these horrific scenes that we've seen on television, it's important to step back and assess how we go about reassessing our distribution of foreign aid, what our strategic purposes are and the other criteria that ought to be implied before we make a knee-jerk or a too-quick decision. i think these programs to achieve our support need to meet three fundamental guidelines. first, which programs most clearly serve our national security interests. clearly, if they do, then it is money well spent. second, which programs best reflect american values and encourage foreign countries to support and adopt those values? we need to support our friends first. and, third, which programs are most effective at the least co cost? we need clear, unambiguous standards of what "effective"
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means. the consequences of no aid, though, is far greater. now to the immediate question before us. before us is the question of how we serve national security interests while at the same time ignoring the fact that the recipient may not be our best friend and may not support our broader purpose. in those cases -- and libya, pakistan and egypt recently are among them -- our broader strategic purpose linked to our national security must have priority. let's look at pakistan. in the case of pakistan, i and some of my colleagues are profoundly skeptical in the state foreign operations appropriations bill markup this year, i joined with my colleague, senator graham, to cut a portion of our assistance to pakistan because of the outrageous conviction and imprisonment of dr.al fread, the -- dr.al freat, the doctor who
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helped us locate bin laden. the cut was our dissatisfaction with the regime's behavior and a signal that more cuts could come should that behave not improve. yesterday i met with the pakistan foreign minister and ambassador to america from pakistan. -year-oldierearlier, senator gri had had had a lengthy discussion with the senator and we conveyed our dissatisfaction with this decision and a number of other things that we have differences with that country. at the time, senator graham said at the hearing that it may become necessary to cut aid off altogether but that time has not yet come. in my view, that time is not yet here. because what is at stake in pakistan so vast as to defy a brief description. a radicalized and hostile muslim country with a potent, fully
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developed nuclear arsenal is the most dreadful global nightmare. we must continue to employ every single tool available to us to make sure that that does not come to pass. despite how skeptical and pe pessimistic we might be about the future of that country. i'm not arguing that our assistant packages to pakistan has been well used or have even resulted in the support that we seek or that the regime there has even shown much gratitude of respect in return. i'm simply noting that in this case, the stakes are huge. the assistance programs do give us some leverage, and anger and despair are not a proper basis for us to make policy judgments, particularly when it comes to the security of the american people and our national interests. let's look at egypt. similarly, we cannot abandon egypt, despite how we have come to judge the result of their elections. those elections have shown us once again that a democratic
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vote does not ensure democracy or stability. elections are a necessary condition for modern, enlightened government but much more is required. and we must be there to help the political and security environment evolve in the right direction. cutting off aid to the egyptian military, arguably an essential element in egypt's future political evolution, is bound to make it far harder to achieve our strategic objectives in the entire region. now, i believe that even the israeli government would oppose an end to u.s. assistance because such a step could further radicalize the new government, the military and even the population itself. aid is one of the few tools we have that requires egypt to maintain observance of the egypt-israel peace treaty. let's look at libya. the issue of aid to libya is even clearer. it is no coincidence that the
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attack on our diplomats occurred on september 11. this attack was certainly generated by radical elements connected to al qaeda or similar terrorist organizations active in this country. we have seen ample confirmation that neither the libyan government nor the vast majority of the libyan people supported that violence in any way. what we have seen is a fragile state of transition that simply must be supported and encouraged by us and our allies. we have seen a libya that wants to support us, wants to go forward with democracy but has yet to gain control of certain parts of its country and certain elements and infiltrated by terrorists and al qaeda, certain elements that need to be addressed in terms of libya's future and in terms of our own national interest. if we cut off aid to libya, we
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risk losing the gains of that revolution to the radical elements that are active there and everywhere else in the region. it is impossible to see how ending our assistance programs would be a responsible move for our country and for our allies. most of us in this body have just come from a lengthy discussion with our director of national intelligence, the -- secretary clinton, our secretary of state, with top representatives from our military, from the f.b.i., and from the administration discussing this very question. gathering all the information we possibly can, making sure we have the facts before we make a quick judgment about the role of libya, the role of terrorists and what we've seen to date. it's a response by the libyan government, even the firing of one of their top officials who made an inappropriate remark relative to this attack. so, in conclusion,
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madam president, i encourage my colleagues to pause and look at the larger picture when it comes to foreign aid. cutting off aid and disengaging from these countries is exactly what the perpetrators of these attacks and protesters are trying to achieve. i do not know if supporting the governments in this volatile region in this revolutionary movement will bring us the results we so urgently need. but if we are to review thoroughly the tools available to us -- and i'm convinced that we must -- we should not begin by throwing out the tools that we have. we need to sharpen those tools and better define their use but not discard them prematurely. madam president, with that, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i rise today for two reasons and
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they are separate and distinct, and i ask that they be separated in the record, if i may. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. first, i rise to protest an action by the federal housing finance agency, fannie mae and freddie mac, that punish my state of connecticut and four other states for effectively protecting our citizens against unfair and abusive mortgage foreclosure practices. and i want to say right at the outset, i am determined to fight this action, along with my colleagues, during the comment period that we have to contest this very unwise, misguided, unacceptable decision. these agencies have just posted for 60-day comment a decision to increase fannie mae and freddie
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mac's guarantee fee for connecticut and four other states -- new jersey, new york, illinois and florida. why? because the protections that we have in place now against those abusive banking tactics that have so pervaded the mortgage foreclosure process, increased the length of time that it sometimes takes for foreclosure, and we have a mediation process that keeps people in their homes and enables settlements that actually save money. that is connecticut's crime. that is the reason that connecticut and for her other states and our homeowners will pay more in those guarantee fees. those fees, by the way, are imposed by fannie mae and freddie mac in exchange for assuming the risk that a loan will default.
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these entities guarantee investors in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, making it less expensive and ease year for home purchasers to obtain financing. the cost of the guaranteed fund is generally passed along to the borrower. so homeowners will pay these increased fees. they will bear this burden and it will be a burden not only on those homeowners but eventually on the housing market, which is in all too slow, fragile recovery, and our economy, which depends so vitally on the housing market. i want to say i'm proud of connecticut. i'm proud of every state like connecticut that protects its homeowners from robo signing or fraudulent affidavits. we believe in justice and due process. we believe in giving homeowners an opportunity to mediate with
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the banks because so often the banks fail to come to the table. they, in effect, give homeowners the runaround. they fail often even to give them a person with whom to negotiate in good faith, and mediation forces them to come to the table. in 80% of the cases where there's mediation, homeowners stay in their homes. and that saves money for other homeowners in the neighborhood because their property values are maintained. it saves money for the homeowner, 34 who doesn't have to find a place to live and maybe even buy another house, and it saves money for fannie mae and freddie mac, in fact, every time they avoid a foreclosure they save on average at least $11,000. and that is the kind of saving
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they ought to relish, not reject. this foreclosure process around the country has raised rightly fears of abuses that connecticut has sought to prevent and this kind of protection ought to be rewarded, not rejected. the additional time that it's taken for foreclosure because of these protections is a cost well worth the larger savings that eventually are realized, and that is the reason that i have determined that i will fight this new proposed guarantee fee which increases by 30%, very significantly and substantially, 30%, the basis points that are charged for every homeowner that takes advantage of a freddie mac and
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fannie mae loan. from the moment families take out a loan, they are faced with fees and charges that we ought to seek to minimize so that we expand and enlarge and continue the recovery in our housing market, while preventing unnecessary and illegal foreclosures. so i am determined to fight this fee. i will enlist help from other lease ooh colleagues who have already indicated their opposition and i believe that together we will succeed in persuading fannie mae and freddie mac that this increase in fee is misguided, unwise, and unacceptable. i also want to speak separately and distinctly about the dream act. just last week i came to the floor to talk about the importance of the dream act and to share the story of a
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connecticut dreamer. and i'm here again today with a story of a different dreamer, another young person from connecticut, and, again, to urge my colleagues to take action on this critically important bill. young people known as dreamers are undocumented immigrants, brought to this country as an early age, some in their infancy. no fault of their own. the consequence is they are here without proper documentation. america is their home. they often know no other language. all of their life is here. they have no memories of the country of their origin, where they were born. but our unfair and impractical immigration system fails to give them a path to citizenship, to stay in this country. the country that they know and love. the dream act would give these
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young immigrants a chance to earn their citizenship. earn their citizenship. through education or military service. earn their citizenship by beginning to give back to this country and they are individuals who will had in fact continue to contribute to this country and give back to it. i'd like to recognize again the distinguished leadership of my colleague, senator durbin, who has been fighting tirelessly for the passage of the dream act for over ten years at the state level i have fought for similar measures that would give rights, particularly in the area of education and tuition aid, to these dreamers. and we have succeeded in connecticut in giving them the benefits of in-state tuition. the immigrants who would benefit from the dream act have already been helped by an order from the president that defers their deportation for two years. it defers their deportation.
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it does not permanently grant them any rights, and, in fact, if there is a change in administration, that order could be easily reversed. so the benefit is temporary. and the need is for a more certain, stable, secure solution so that they can come out of the shadows, avoid being marginalized by our outdated immigration laws, gain the kind of scholarship aid that they need, seek to serve our country on a more permanent basis, and benefit, but also discharge the obligations of citizenship in this country. i want talk today about usmari kugwal. a college student who grew up in norwalk, connecticut. she was born in venezuela, came
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to this country when she was 11 years old, she was told by her mom that the reason for her coming here was to learn english, and the idea of learning a new language in a new country was immensely exciting to her. the family settled in norwalk, and she began middle school in a week or two after arriving in america. she remembers those early days of her life. but she also remembers the struggle, the excitement and the struggle. arriving without any knowledge of english, she mastered this language, her grades improved over time, and she kept in mind why her parents had brought her to america. she was dedicated to that day when she would be successful, when she would have visions realized and dreams achieved
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that she couldn't accomplish in venezuela and she graduated from middle school with excellent grades. she was proud of what she'd accomplished and learned and soon after completing middle school, to her dismay she became aware of her legal status in this country. learning that she was undocumented -- and i'm going to hold up her picture. affected her performance and her state of mind. by the time usmareth was in high school she stopped trying to get perfect grades because she feared colleges wouldn't accept her anyway and at this point she became depressed, she felt helpless, she graduated high school but had almost given up the idea of attending college. she didn't lose hope. after she graduated from high school, she decided to continue her education in norwalk yiewnt college -- -- community
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college, a wonderful institution whose graduation i recently attended this year. a place that does wonders, provides immense opportunities for people regardless of their race or background or documentation in citizenship. and it did wonders for usmareth. she worked at a lot of different jobs to pay for her education, from waitressing at restaurants to working at a pet store to babysitting and she continues to work to pay for her education, and now having graduated from nor walk community college, she is attending western connecticut state university. this picture is of her graduation, but she and we are hopeful that she will have another graduation. she is currently pursuing a double major in accounting and finance at western state university and expects to graduate in 2014.
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she hopes to be an accountant, hopes to have a career where she can put her skills to work. she hopes to give back to this country. that hope deserves recognition and realization and that's why i stand here asking for this body to give usmareth and thousands of other young people in connecticut the dreamers, that opportunity to have secure and permanent status a path to citizenship that they will earn through education or military service. i'm hopeful that my colleagues, even in a time of tremendous smairn, will see the importance importance -- partisanship, will see the importance of usmareth, the dreamers, not only to them but to our nation, what they can give us, what she has in skills and talents and dedication, and how this nation
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will be even greater. we are the greatest nation in the history of the world, but even greater with the contributions of young people like usmareth. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i would ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you very much. i rise to speak about one subject but a very important subject for our country and for our system of justice, and that's the confirmation of federal district court judges. i'll focus tonight on one federal district in pennsylvania, the middle district, and just by way of background review kind of where we are in the senate. earlier today majority leader reid was required to ask for unanimous consent in order to
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proceed on senate confirmation votes for 17 district court nominees. of course, this is from district courts across the country. as the majority leader and many of our senate colleagues have noted, the district court nominees on the senate calendar are all nearly -- are nearly all, i should say, noncontroversial, and have received significant bipartisan support. the judges i'll speak about tonight fit that description. historically the united states senate has deferred to the nomination of the president in the support of home-state senators. that's historically. but, unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case today in too many instances. not in every instance, but in too many instances. there's an old expression in the law many of us have heard, and it's very simple, but i think it has substantial consequences
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for real people. and that is the expression justice delayed is justice denied. and when we have a situation here where you have two judges in the middle district of pennsylvania -- and i should say for the record and for the description of the geography in our state we have three federal judicial districts, the eastern district, the middle district and the western district. when you have two district court nominees in pennsylvania or in any of the other states that have judges that are still pending, you can just imagine the number of cases, not just hundreds, but thousands of cases that these and in this case 17 judges could be handling right now across our country. so that -- the old expression "justice delayed is justice denied" has real significance for real people out there, people that come before the district court as litigants,
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whether they're individuals or corporations or whatever the party is, they come for basic justice and that gets very difficult if cases are backlogged because there aren't enough judges. it's especially egregious and outrageous that they're held up here when in many cases they get out of the judiciary committee after a long process of just getting to the judiciary committee, sometimes many, many months of vetting and investigation and work, and often they come to the -- the names are available for voting here in the senate, after not just coming through the judiciary committee but part and parcel of that it means that the two in almost every substance instance the two united states senators from that state have agreed that they should come up for a vote. and yet when it lands here on the floor, or when it lands in the senate, so to speak after
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committee consideration, judges are held up, judicial nominees are held up. the ability of the federal courts to provide justice to the american people has been indeed threatened by this vacancy crisis. and the overburdened federal district courts. families, communities and small businesses are not able to get a fair hearing or have their claims resolved in a timely fashion. these federal court vacancies need to be filled to assure a functioning democracy and a functioning judicial system. the pennsylvania nominees on the senate calendar are two individuals: malachy mannion and matthew brand. i won't go through their background and qualifications already. we've done that already. they are through the judiciary committee. but these men are always very
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well qualified to be district judges. both of these judges would fill judicial emergency vacancies in pennsylvania's middle district. the middle district of pennsylvania has six posts, six judicial slots and these are two vacancies for those six. the middle district is the largest federal district in pennsylvania geographically and has four courthouses, one of which is several hours' drive from the others. because of the vacancies, the judges with senior status still continue to hear cases. three of these judges are at least 86 years old. let me say that again. three of these senior judges that have to do extra work because of the vacancies are at least 86 years old. i know mal mannion and matthew
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brann were reported out of the judiciary committee. both were supported by senator toomey as well as me. both came together through the process and through the process of introducing both of these nominees to the judiciary committee. and they are, as i said before, through that process. so i strongly urge that we move forward and allow a vote on all of these highly qualified noncontroversial united states district court nominees. two in particular in pennsylvania. i should mention there was an article written -- i won't summarize it here, but there is an article written in "the atlantic magazine" last week by andrew cohen that highlighted the impact, some of the impacts that this crisis has on real people when they appear before district courts like the middle
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district of pennsylvania. madam president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i rise today to again raise my concerns that we see action in the house to pass the senate
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bill reauthorizing the violence against women act. we need to continue this critical funding for survivors of domestic violence. now we've heard in the discussions on the senate floor about the protections that are offered in the senate bill that have not been included in the bill that the house has pending. they are protections that would help women on college campuses, women on tribal lands, gay and lesbian victims and immigrants. but it's really important for us to remember not just those provisions, but all of the other ways that the violence against women act has benefited not just the victims of domestic violence, but really all of us. because domestic violence isn't just a women's issue. it affects all of us. it affects our entire economy.
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it affects our families. the centers for disease control estimates that the direct health care costs associated with domestic violence are about $4.1 billion every single year. and we know this is a conservative estimate because so many of the victims never come forward. the protections offered by the violence against women act have proven to be absolutely essential in preventing abuse. last week was the 18th anniversary of the original passage of vawa, so this is a good time to reflect on the progress that we made. over the last 18 years the reporting of incidence of domestic violence has increased by 51%. and at the same time, according to the f.b.i., the number of women who have been killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34%.
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so clearly it's having some effect. researchers at the north carolina school of public health estimate that vawa saved $12.6 billion in its first seven years alone. so even if you don't support the legislation because it does good work for families, this is a bill that's also a good investment. this is about telling the victims of violence that we stand with them, because having safe, healthy citizens benefits all of us. we all do better when fewer women are going to the emergency room, are missing work or giving their children up in order to protect those children from violence at home. we are all in this together. i've had a chance as we've had this debate in the senate to visit a number of crisis centers in new hampshire, centers that benefit directly from the funding in the violence against women act.
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recently i visited the keynes mananox center. i had a chance to speak with a number of caseworkers there and with two of the survivors. those two women told me what it was like as they were trying to figure out how to leave their abusers. i asked them what would have happened if this center wasn't here? both of them said that they had nowhere else to go. and one of the women said -gs "my husband would have killed me." that was how desperate she was. while i was there, i also had a chance to meet some of the children who were staying at the center, and i want to take just a minute to talk about how important this is for them, the children who are witnesses of domestic violence or who as a result of that violence are victims themselves. centers all over new hampshire
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and the united states have advocacy programs that are funded by vawa that offer support groups for children. and for children, they are particularly vulnerable and ill-equipped to deal with the trauma of domestic violence. this is trauma that affects them through their entire lives. a study by the world health organization found that children raised in households where domestic violence occurred are more likely to have behavioral problems, to drop out of school early, to experience juvenile delinquency. it's not surprising. a child who witnesses domestic violence between parents is more likely to view violence as an acceptable method of conflict resolution. boys who witness domestic violence are more likely to become abusers and girls who witness domestic violence are more likely to become victims of domestic violence as adults. one advocate at the bridges
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crisis center in new hampshire, in nashua, new hampshire, works to prevent this cycle by providing safety planning for children. she teaches them that they can live a life that's free of violence. this free preventive care for children is made possible by a grant from vawa, and our children deserve this. this is why we need to reauthorize the violence against women act. this is about women who are in danger, about children and families who are at risk. one of the stories that i found particularly touching when i was at bridges was about a young boy named brian. the caseworker told me that brian was really nervous about going back to school. he was supposed to bring with him a story about something fun that he had done over the summer, but he had been in the shelter at bridges with his mother, and it really hadn't been a very fun summer.
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so the child advocate organized a barbecue in the park across the street, and everybody from the center came and joined in that barbecue and gave him a happy memory that he could take with him to the first day of school. this is the kind of healing that we need more of, and we can start, we can help this continue by reauthorizing the violence against women act. i hope that all of our colleagues, as we go home for the next six weeks, go back to our states, travel around, hear from people in our states the issues that they're concerned about, that we won't forget about the task that we have at hand when we come back. we need to reauthorize the violence against women act. we need to get the house to join with us in passing the senate bill so that we can include those expanded protections that are needed so much by women and
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families across this country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and know you join with me in recognizing that we still have time to get this done this year. thank you. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. sanders: i ask that the
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quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: madam president, i want to spend a few minutes talking about an issue that i believe has not gotten the attention that it deserves, especially in the midst of the contentious presidential campaign that we are witnessing. and that is the need to discuss a program which is probably the most successful social program in the modern history of the united states, a program which provides dignity and security to well over 50 million americans, and that is social security. madam president, just this afternoon 29 senators sent a letter to all of our colleagues which says -- and i quote -- "we will oppose including social security cuts for future or current beneficiaries in any deficit-reduction package."
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let's be very clear. our country does have a serious deficit problem. our deficit this year, about $1 trillion. our national debt is $16 trillion. that is a serious problem. but, madam president, let us be equally clear in understanding that social security has not contributed one nickel to the federal deficit. so despite what you're going to hear tonight on cable television or some of the speeches that my colleagues will give, let me reiterate, social security has not contributed one nickel to our federal deficit. in fact, the social security trust fund today, according to the social security administration, has a $2.7 trillion surplus. let me repeat that. a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay out 100% of all benefits
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owed to every eligible american for the next 21 years. although many americans now take social security for granted, we should never, never underestimate the incredibly positive impact that social security has had on our nation. in fact, one could well argue that social security has been the nation's most successful social program certainly in the modern history of this country. in the 77 years since social security was signed into law, it has been enormously successful in reducing poverty for senior citizens. before the advent of social security, back in the 1920's, early 1930's, about half of the senior citizens in this country lived in poverty, some in dismal poverty. today, while the number is too high, the number of seniors living in poverty is less than
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10%. we have gone from 50% to less than 10%. that, to my mind, is a real success story and something that this nation should be incredibly proud of. today, social security not only provides retirement benefits for 34 million americans but also enables millions of people with disabilities and widows, widowers and children who live in dignity and security. i hear in vermont very often, and i expect, madam president, you hear in new hampshire young people who have been able to go to college, live with some sense of security despite the death of a parent precisely because of social security. yet, despite social security's -- yet, madam president, despite all of these success stories, today social security is on the chopping
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block. millions of americans when asked in polls make it very, very clear, including people all across the political spectrum, say no, we should not cut social security. millions of people understand that social security -- and this is simply an extraordinary record, has been there in good times and in bad times and in 77 years not one american, no matter what the state of the economy, has not received all of the benefits that he or she is entitled to. it is an insurance program that has worked and worked extraordinarily well. madam president, what we are looking at right now are attacks on social security coming from mitt romney, from paul ryan and
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from virtually every republican in congress who are calling for major cuts in social security. many of them including romney and ryan also want to edwin the the -- begin the process of privatizing social security and turning it over to wall street, putting the retirement dreams of millions of americans at risk. they are also pushing to increase the retirement age to 68 or 69, forcing older americans who have worked their entire lives, sometimes in physically demanding jobs, in construction, maybe they have worked in restaurants, they have been waitresses their whole lives, and now some folks want these people to still be working at the age of 68 or 69 years of age. madam president, while virtually every republican in congress is pushing to cut social security benefits, there are also some benefits who are considering
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cutting social security as part of some deficit reduction grand bargain. i strongly disagree with that approach, and i hope that president obama will make it clear as he did four years ago that he also disagrees with that approach. let me quote what president obama said four years ago when he was senator obama running for the white house. this is what he said, and i quote -- "john mccain's campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on social security might be to cut cost of living adjustments or raise the retirement age. let me be clear. i will not do either." end of quote, senator barack obama, september 6, 2008. what then-senator obama said in 2008 was exactly right, and, madam president, i hope that now in 2010, we will hear the president reiterate that
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position. world cup of the most talked about ideas, when we hear discussions about cutting social security, one of the most talked about ideas -- and nobody outside of the beltway has a clue about what this means. i can tell you i have been to many meetings in vermont and i asked vermonters do you know what the chain c.p.i. is, and nobody has a clue. one of the ways to cut social security is moving toward a so-called chain c.p.i. which changes how cost of living adjustments for social security benefits and veterans' benefits are calculated. so what it does right now, there is a formula by which the government determines what kind of cola, cost of living adjustment seniors and veterans will get. it's a complicated formula. but what these guys want to do is cut back -- make that formula, readjust that formula so that the benefits will be less. people who support this concept of a chain c.p.i. such as alan
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simpson, erskine bowles and wall street billionaire pete peterson -- and peterson is one of the guys, billionaire on wall street putting huge amounts of money in order to cut social security and other important programs -- they believe that social security colas and colas for veterans' benefits are too generous, and they want to cut those cola benefits. i will tell you something, when i talk to seniors in the state of vermont and i say there are people in washington who think their cola benefits are too generous, usually they laugh, and the reason that they laugh is that for two out of the last three years, they haven't received any cola whatsoever, nothing, while at the same time their prescription drug costs and their health care costs have been soaring, and they look at me and they say what, are these people crazy? if we haven't gotten a cola in two out of the last three years while our expenses have risen, how do they think that that cola
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formula is now too generous? when i speak and let's be also very clear that when we talk about this chain c.p.i., this means not only cuts for seniors, it means cuts for veterans, and that's an issue we have not talked about very much. so let me talk about what the chain c.p.i. means. it means they want to implement this, by the way, very shortly. romney and ryan are talking about changing medicare as we know over a ten-year period, and i think that's a disastrous idea, but with these -- what these guys now are talking about are immediate cuts in the cola starting as soon as they can pass that legislation. now, what it would mean is for a senior citizen who is 65 years of age today, by the time that senior reaches 75, there would
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be a 560-dollar a year cut compared to what they otherwise would have gotten. now, some folks here on capitol hill may not think $560 is a lot, but if you're struggling on $14,000 or $15,000 a year, that is quite a hit, and once that 65-year-old in 20 years reaches 85, that cut will be approximately a thousand dollars a year. now, i have a problem in a nation which has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income where the rich are getting richer and their effective tax rate is the lowest in decades. for some folks around here pushed by wall street billionaires, by the way, to say hey, we got a great idea on how we can deal with deficit reduction, let's tell a senior living on $15,000 a year social security that we're going to cut them by $1,000 in 20 years. i think really that is morally grotesque and it is also bad
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economics. but this chain c.p.i. would not only impact seniors, it would also impact three million veterans, 3 million veterans would be impacted by this chain c.p.i. for example, a veteran who put his life on the line to defend this country and was severely wounded in action and who has 100% service-connected disability is currently eligible to receive about $32,000 a year from the v.a. under the chain c.p.i., this disabled veteran who started receiving v.a. disability benefits at age 30 would see his benefits cut by more than $1,300 a year, at age 45, $1,800 a year at age 55 and $2,260 a year at age 65. in other words, moving toward a chain c.p.i. would be a
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disgraceful effort to balance the budget on some of the most vulnerable people in this country, including people who have suffered severe wounds and disabilities in defending this country. those are not the people upon whom you balance the budget. madam president, i will just conclude by reminding the american people that when clinton, bill clinton left office in january, 2001, this country had a 236 billion-dollar surplus and the projections were that surplus was going to grow every single year. but some of the same people in congress right now, including congressman paul ryan who is running for vice president, who are so concerned about the deficit, who want to cut social security, end medicare as we know it, make devastating cuts in medicaid and education, these
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very same people voted to go to war in iraq and afghanistan and not pay one nickel for those wars or put them on the credit card and increase the deficit. these same people who now want to go after wounded veterans gave you huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, adding to the deficit, they passed a medicare part-d prescription drug program and forgot to pay for that as well. so to my mind, i have a real problem for folks who went to war without paying for it, gave tax breaks to millionaires without paying for it, passed the medicare part-d prescription drug program without paying for it, and now they say we have got to cut social security, medicare, medicaid, education, and the needs of working families and low-income people. i think that that is absolute
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hypocrisy. so, madam president, our charge is that instead of listening to the wall street billionaires who want to move to a deficit reduction on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick, the poor, wounded veterans, i think there are better ways to do deficit reduction, and i hope that as a congress we will come together and say that when the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well, yeah, they're going to have to pay more in taxes. when a quarter of the corporations in this country pay nothing in taxes, they're going to have to pay their fair share of taxes. when we're losing $100 billion a year because of tax havens in the cayman islands and elsewhere, we're going to have to deal with that issue before we cut programs that elderly people and veterans and children depend upon. so we have got a lot of work in front of us, madam president, but the bottom line is i will do everything that i can to make sure that we do not balance the budget on the backs of the
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elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. that is immoral and it is also bad economic policy. thank you, madam president. with that, i would -- one last thing. i would like to enter into the record the letter signed by 29 members of the senate opposing cuts in social security. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: i would yield the floor. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: discussions continue on processing the business we need to address before we leave. as i've said repeatedly, we need to do just a couple of things before we break for the elections. we need to pass a c.r. we need to vote on proceeding to the sportsman's package. to help move the c.r., we have been told that the republicans now have decided they are willing to vote sometime on the paul bill, on foreign aid and also the iran containment resolution. as i said yesterday, we're willing to do that.
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in the worst case, under the rules, a cloture vote on the c.r. would occur tomorrow night at 1:00 a.m. on saturday. once we invoke cloture on the continuing resolution, the 30 hours postcloture would run out at about 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning sunday, and we would vote then to pass the c.r. which would be immediately followed by a vote on the sportsman's package. i am happy to continue these discussions. we are working to see if we can schedule these votes to occur at a time that is more convenient to senators. i hope that we can have more to report on that tomorrow. it appears at this stage there is no agreement on having any votes tomorrow, so we may have to finish our work tomorrow, beginning tomorrow night very late. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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